BTG Labs

5129 Kiely Pl.
Cincinnati, OH 45217 US

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BTG Labs' Success Story: The Development of the Surface Analyst

In the early 2000s, the U.S. Airforce recruited BTG Labs to aid in the development of bonding technologies for composite materials to replace heavier aluminum and titanium in aircraft manufacturing. Carbon fiber composites provide lighter, stronger options for aircraft materials. But, to realize these advantages they must be joined by bonding, not by mechanical fasteners. The primary obstacle to bonding has been the lack of a practical way to inspect a bond surface and ensure that they have been prepared in a way that will produce a strong, reliable bond. Thus, they needed a method to adhere the composites effectively, efficiently, and confidently.

 

Measuring Surface Energy to Ensure the Success of Bonded Composites

Giles Dillingham, CEO and Chief Scientist of BTG Labs knew that the key to reproducible control of a bond surface lay in being able to measure the properties of the material's surface. With a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research Contract, Giles recruited a team of three engineers. Their goal: to develop an instrument for determining the surface readiness to bond between composites, metals, and other materials. Ergo, they came up with a small, accurate, handheld instrument to quickly analyze a surface and provide quantifiable information, in seconds, on the factory floor. By determining a way in which to measure the contact angle of a drop of water on the surface, they were able to create this easy to use, portable instrument that can measure the surface energy of a substrate accurately and non-destructively.

Phase II brought the Surface Analyst™ prototype which is always evolving. Today, it is sold widely across a vast array of industries from automotive to medical devices. Lockheed Martin boasts a savings of 25 million dollars by implementing 12 Surface Analysts in 2015. They now include a Surface Analyst in every sale of the F-35 as part of the repair equipment package. BTG Labs continues to work vigorously in the air force and aerospace industry and it still supported by DARPA.

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As Seen In CompositesWorld

Highlights from AeroDef 2018 aerospace defense manufacturing conference

Composites at AeroDef 2018
Highlights from the Aerospace Defense Manufacturing Conference – AeroDef 2018 include new technologies for tooling, drilling/machining and inspection of advanced composites.

Webinar: Surface treatments for composites bonding
CompositesWorld is presenting a free BTG Labs-sponsored webinar on Oct. 17 at 2:00 p.m. EDT titled, “Development and control of surface treatments for adhesive bonding of composites.”

Webinar: Understanding, controlling the bond surface
CompositesWorld is presenting a free BTG Labs-sponsored webinar on Oct. 6, 2:00 pm EDT, titled "Understanding and Controlling the Bond Surface in Manufacturing for Reliable Adhesive Bonding of Composites."

Wet and dry peel plies
Thinking of using only peel ply as adhesive bonding surface prep? You should understand all of the issues involved.

Handheld surface analysis
BTG Labs (Cincinnati, OH, US) has introduced the Surface Analyst, a handheld solution for use in the field, in the lab and on the factory floor.

Plasma treatment as surface preparation for adhesive bonding
Concurrent with the TRUST program's development of process control, it is addressing the need for more robust surface prep. methods.

Building TRUST in bonded primary structures
A DARPA program aims for certification via Bayesian process control system for the factory floor, bounding uncertainty and predicting reliability in real-time.

NDI and NDT methods for process control
There are three main nondestructive inspection technologies currently under development to help qualify surface preparation techniques for adhesively bonded aerospace surfaces evaluate the quality of both the prepared surfaces and the final bonded joint.

Certification of bonded composite primary structures
OEMs develop technology to quantify uncertainty in pursuit of the no-bolt bondline.

Product Categories of BTG Labs

Consulting, process development
Inspection services
Other testing equipment
Surface analyzers